SOM completes in Beijing

Nick Myall
Friday 24 Jun 2016

The recently completed Beijing Greenland Center has a striking façade that catches daylight creating an interplay of light and shadow

Anchoring Beijing’s Dawangjing business district, the mixed-use Beijing Greenland Center, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, is a highly sustainable landmark building equidistant from Beijing’s bustling core and the airport. The 260m tall, 55-storey tower prioritizes sustainability and efficiency and is clad in a prismatic trapezoidal glass façade that generates self-shading to enhance the building’s environmental performance.

The design team sought to create an elegant, eye-catching tower by exploring interactions between simple form, light, and shadow. In a response to Beijing’s overcast skies, the tower catches and reflects daylight to enliven the surrounding neighbourhood. The tower’s striking façade pattern is informed by the bas relief carving technique: Isosceles trapezoidal modules function as prisms, catching daylight and refracting it to create an interplay of light and shadow. Each face is composed of two vertical, low-E insulated vision glass panels. Two trapezoid types alternate in a regular pattern up the tower’s height, tapering toward the sky or the neighbourhood below. The trapezoidal skin increases the building’s performance, providing energy-saving self-shading on all faces.

The design aims to achieve a 30% reduction in energy use and water consumption compared to baseline by utilizing sustainable features such as a Direct Digital Control building automation system, a heat reclaim wheel, variable speed pumps for heating and cooling, and a water-side economizer to utilize evaporative cooling.

Addressing a need for environmentally responsible, mixed-use urban development, Beijing Greenland Center is a highly visible example of how visually striking design can also be highly flexible and sustainable.

Beijing Dawangjing is a new neighbourhood located on Beijing’s northeast side, halfway between the city’s historic core and Beijing Capital International Airport. The mixed-use development was master planned by SOM to be a walkable, green district that prioritizes quality of life and responsible use of natural resources. Adjacent to the Capital-Airport Freeway and the 5th Ring Road and near the M15 metro, Dawangjing seamlessly integrates with the built environment in Beijing’s Wangjing area and brings new greenspace, cultural and civic venues, and residential, retail, office options to the growing Beijing neighbourhood. Several SOM-designed towers, including the Beijing Greenland Center and a cluster of three towers at Poly International Plaza, anchor the district

The master plan establishes principles and guidelines for the Dawangjing neighbourhood that reduce environmental impact and make walking and bicycling safer and more compelling. A new park is the area’s centrepiece and incorporates destination amenities like cafes and recreation facilities to encourage interaction and a sense of community. Streets are designed to be as verdant and welcoming as the park, with bike lanes and sidewalks set alongside green features such as bioswales. Pedestrian-scaled commercial and retail bolster an active streetscape, and main office and hotel lobbies are located along pedestrian thoroughfares. 

Nick Myall

News Editor

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